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SPEEDWAY, Ind. — For the first time in two years fans will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) for the GMR Grand Prix this weekend. For IMS officials this is a practice lap for the Indy 500 when it comes to new COVID protocols.

“We have already seen some things we can do better,” says IMS President Doug Boles, “This really is the beginning of what we will get to work on between now and May 30 when we get to have the Indy 500. I knew I missed everybody. I didn’t know how much I missed everybody. Seeing the excitement in their eyes, just the happiness.”

“It’s been a long two years. I’ve been coming here since 1973,” says race fan Rick Reitman behind his mask, ““I’m going to play by the rules to be here.”

The track is expecting to see 25,000 fans there this weekend. Each one will be wearing a mask and adhering to social distance policies. The mask mandate will remain despite the CDC saying vaccinated people can take them off in outdoor settings.

“The challenge for us would be how do you determine who’s vaccinated and who’s not? It’s certainly a conversation we will have with the Marion County Health Department as we go forward to see if any opportunity to adjust our agreement with them,” adds Boles.

“It’s very safe. There’s mask ambassadors that have an eye out,” explains race fan Emilie Uhrich “This I the first event we have gone out to as a family since COVID. We haven’t been out for even dinner.”

IMS will also do away with temperature checks before fans enter. Boles says they spoke with local health experts who told them it was a fringe requirement, and not necessary for an outdoor event.

“It will be the largest gathering in the world since the pandemic,” smiles Boles talking about the upcoming 500, “The good news is we are the largest public gathering in the world every year, so we are used to that.”